JD.com launches cross-border e-commerce platform in direct challenge to Alibaba's Tmall
JD.com, China's No. 2 e-commerce player, on Wednesday launched its JD Worldwide cross-border online shopping platform, a challenger to Alibaba Group's Tmall Global service.
JD Worldwide will allow Chinese shoppers to buy imports from US firms such as Nike, Starbucks and Ocean Spray Cranberries, as well as products from countries like Australia, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, JD.com said in a press release.
Overseas suppliers will provide more than 1,200 brands, without those merchants requiring a presence in China.
JD.com said the selection of launch products was based on internal data on what were the most popular categories for foreign goods. The company said that in future it may expand the categories available depending on consumer demand.
The venture adds to a host of online retail rivals for Alibaba and Amazon.com catering to fears about the quality and safety of Chinese goods after a number of scares, and comes on the back of a Chinese government push to promote e-commerce and relax import restrictions.
"The current Chinese model of online shopping for foreign goods involves purchasing them from agents. It raises risks for customers that they will buy fake products," said Shen Haoyu, chief executive of JD Worldwide.
"[We] will be able to provide direct sales to customers and make sure products are genuine."
JD.com still trails far behind Alibaba in Chinese e-commerce. Alibaba's high profile since its record-breaking US$25 billion US listing in September is a huge lure for brands looking to enter or raise their presence in China, which some analysts estimate as the world's biggest online shopping market.
"Imported goods have always been huge sellers on JD.com, and this massively expands the range of products available to Chinese consumers," said Leo Li, who oversees JD Worldwide.
Using China's e-commerce free trade zones and the firm's own logistics network, JD.com can "offer international brands a direct channel to Chinese consumers with preferential tax rates to make prices highly competitive," he said, adding that JD.com would also do marketing for its overseas partners.
"We are currently providing free advertising so that they get good traffic and don't become ghost stores. We're playing the long game with our partners."
JD.com, backed by Alibaba arch-rival Tencent, also said it launched with eBay Inc a programme to allow Chinese shoppers to buy select goods from US eBay sellers.
A spokeswoman for eBay confirmed the partnership.
Shares of JD.com, which markets itself as a seller of authentic goods, have risen 44 per cent since the beginning of the year. Alibaba's stock price, on the other hand, has fallen 18 per cent in the same period.
Analysts have expressed concern over counterfeits on the world's largest e-commerce firm's platforms, as well as lacklustre earnings and investor excitement wearing off after the initial public offering.